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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials May 26, 2016

5/11/2013 1:05:00 PM
Editorial: Justice never served for Milo Stanley

It all began as a missing person’s report.

A young mother and her 5-year-old daughter had gone for a walk along the Verde River and never returned to their home in Clarkdale’s Patio Town.

That was the story Milo Stanley told police June 20, 1986. It launched a massive search along the Verde River with divers scouring the river’s channel.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Devine managed the ground search. Devine would go on to become the first town marshal and manager of Camp Verde. Devine was the primary architect of municipal government in the community.

Meanwhile, former Clarkdale Police Chief and Town Manager Pat Spence was questioning Stanley. Within hours, Spence smelled a rat. His suspicions were confirmed later in the day when members of Susan Stanley’s family alerted authorities to a suspicious vehicle in an auto shop where Stanley worked on Sixth Street in Cottonwood.

The car was saturated with blood.

Before the day was over, Stanley admitted that he had shot and killed his wife and young daughter and dumped the bodies in a ravine off Allen Springs Road.

Former Yavapai County Attorney Charles “Chick” Hastings personally prosecuted the Stanley case. He made legal mincemeat of the defendant’s insanity defense claim.

That would be the only justice Spence and Devine would ever see for Milo Stanley. Stanley was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. He had been sitting on death row in the state prison in Florence since Oct. 6, 1987.

Both Spence and Devine would die before they could witness Stanley’s execution.

The Milo Stanley case is a textbook example of everything that is wrong with death penalty cases in Arizona. For most convicted murderers, decades can go by before the ultimate punishment and legally ordered execution is carried out.

In a case such as Stanley’s, he had been sitting on death row for nearly three decades. The primary lawmen who investigated the case had long died and there are few folks in Clarkdale and the Verde Valley who even remember Milo Stanley.

It’s all a moot point now. Stanley committed suicide Friday morning in his cell on death row.

It’s not justice.

But it’s finally over with.

Related Stories:
• Clarkdale murderer Milo Stanley commits suicide at state prison

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2013
Article comment by: Ursula Galhouse

Susan was my first cousin. The horror that this caused the immediate family is undescribable. My heart aches for my uncle and surviving cousins and everyone who was touched by this tragedy. This includes Milo's family, many who have now passed. I also believe that he sat on death row far too long. Ultimately his punishment was living with what he had done. RIP Susan and Selest

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Article comment by: What is

The Dictionary says: "the administering of deserved punishment or reward."

I'd say 30 years on death row with the guilty person winding up dead is acceptable "justice."

Unless, of course, "justice' requires that someone else to flip the switch.

You know, the old 'eye for an eye' Christian thingy.

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